Tag Archives: Minnesota

Ohio State-Minnesota football week in review

With another week of football season in the books, here’s a roundup of the marks I left on the Internet as Ohio State and Minnesota got ready for a big November football game.

Of course we spent a lot of time looking back at the Buckeyes’ big win at Michigan State, including what that taught us about both programs, but the Golden Gophers deserve some respect after already winning seven games this season, including a spanking of Iowa last season.

There was also time for a little fun from the world of Major League Baseball.

Enjoy!

At BuckeyeSports.com:

OSU Football: Scouting Minnesota – We take a look at the Buckeyes’ next opponent on the gridiron

OSU Football Second Thoughts: Michigan State – The Buckeyes made use of their various talent advantages

Cus Words: Better Not Look Down – The Buckeyes are back on top of the Big Ten, but they can’t afford to overlook Minnesota

OSU Assistants: Warinner and Ash – Buckeye coaches talk win at MSU, look ahead to Minnesota

At FOXSportsOhio.com:

Buckeyes bring in another top 10 class

Adorable daddy-daughter moment highlights reaction to Kluber’s Cy Young

Buckeyes turn sights to Minnesota

Buckeyes lose Wilson to foot injury

Eyeing Ohio State-Minnesota

I circled the Minnesota game as a potential trap game in August. I was thinking about that even before the Michigan State game was moved to a night affair, and that loss of preparation time led me to pick the upset in our preseason predictions for Buckeye Sports Bulletin and here on the blog.

A mental letdown is also natural coming off such an emotional win against the Spartans, and in the summer it was easy to see the Buckeyes having a hard time getting up for a nondescript Minnesota team almost 50 years removed from its last Big Ten championship.

The Golden Gophers at 7-2 and coming off a thrashing of Iowa are too good to call this a trap game, though. I do believe they will have the Buckeyes’ attention, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be an upset. minnesota

Heading into last week, I felt pretty confident Ohio State had better players than Michigan State, but I was not at all sure they were ready mentally to utilize that skill. The first 25 minutes or so of game action validated this belief, but then they righted themselves and turned on the afterburners.

That response — and an even greater talent disparity — makes me think the Buckeyes will take care of business in Minneapolis, but there is certainly a path to victory for Minnesota.

The Golden Gophers dominated Iowa with the help of turnovers, and such miscues were part of their undoing in an upset at Illinois. If they can come out ahead in this department and hit some shots in play action (although Ohio State is curiously enough 2-0 when losing the turnover battle this season), they have a formidable running attack and defense that can shorten the game.

Here’s my full scouting report at BuckeyeSports.com.

Ohio State defense on spot after offensive explosion

Urban Meyer let his Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate their statement win over Michigan State, but he acknowledged he is concerned about the loss of about eight hours worth of preparation time for Minnesota (Read more).

The Golden Gophers are 7-2 and will play host to the Buckeyes on Saturday in a game scheduled to kick off at noon Eastern.

While nine offensive players were either recognized as grading out at a championship level or sharing the offensive player of the week award, only a handful of defensive players could say the same about either.

Meyer and safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash both acknowledged the Buckeyes’ defensive effort was not satisfactory even though they won the game. While more than a third of the yards Ohio State allowed came in the fourth quarter after they built up a three-score lead, the secondary missed some opportunities to keep the talented Spartans in check.  Continue reading Ohio State defense on spot after offensive explosion

2014 Big Ten football picks

I think this will be one of the better Big Tens we’ve seen in the past decade or so, but I’m not sure there is an elite team in the league. There should be depth, and that could set things up for a strong 2015, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Ohio State is rebuilding on defense, but that unit could hardly be worse than it was when the ’13 season concluded, so it’s hard to count that as a negative. Michigan State’s offense was a sore spot early last season but finished on a high and returns almost everyone of consequence. They’ll have some new faces on the offensive line, but that unit wasn’t great anyway so they can probably get by with an average front again this season all things considered. Teams may play them differently now that Connor Cook is a known commodity, though. How he responds to that will tell a large part of the tale this season. Recent conference history is littered with quarterbacks who looked good early in their career but plateaued. Big Ten logo

Michigan State is, pardon the pun, green in some spots on defense, and it is unlikely the Spartans will be as tough there regardless of how good coaches Mark Dantonio and Pat Narduzzi have proven to be on that side of the ball. The same can be said of Ohio State’s offensive line, though, so it all could be a wash when the teams play Nov. 8. Continue reading 2014 Big Ten football picks

Big Ten West spring football review

After a bit of a delay for some NFL draft coverage, we have finally wrapped up our spring review for Big Ten football at BuckeyeSports.com. Big Ten logo

Earlier we took a look at the East. Now comes the West, which should have an interesting race.

Iowa and Minnesota both showed great improvement last season while Nebraska and Wisconsin have questions but remain contenders.  Continue reading Big Ten West spring football review

A Last Look at the Big Ten Bowls

Earlier, I took an overview of the Big Ten and what it needs to bounce back from a very poor 2012 football season. I take a lot more from the regular season than the bowls, but another sub-.500 record in the postseason certainly doesn’t help the cause of the league.

As far as the games themselves, I’m not sure we learned a whole lot.

  • The 2013 Capital One Bowl was really a quintessential 2012 Nebraska performance as the Cornhuskers gained 443 yards of offense but allowed 146 more than that. They put up 31 points (including an interception returned for a touchdown) but lost by two touchdowns. In short, the offense and defense were both spectacular, one good and one bad. I’d say personnel is the main explanation on both sides – Taylor Martinez progressed significantly (but still has more room to improve even more as a senior) and Nader Abdallah stepped up in the wake of I-back Rex Burkhead’s injury-plagued senior campaign. Aside from Burkhead (whom they’ve shown they can live without), the only real weapons they lose are a pair of talented tight ends, so the offense should continue to hum. Defensively, a bunch of seniors are walking out the door, but I’m not sure that is a bad thing. The talent has steadily dropped on that unit for three consecutive years, and the production has followed. Some new blood could be good, although I would rate Will Compton, Baker Steinkuhler and Eric Martin as players who will be missed. I also think the season and the game demonstrated the double-edged sword that is the multifaceted Bo Pelini (and coordinator John Papuchis) defense. A two-gap defensive line and pattern reading secondary gives the scheme a lot of flexibility, but it also leaves a lot of potential seams that can burst in the case of bad communication. To make matters worse, I don’t think Nebraska had enough guys with the talent to erase mistakes.
  • Michigan’s defensive numbers were largely a mirage. I like their young linebackers a lot, but the defensive line needs a serious upgrade. The secondary was better than it had been two years ago, but that doesn’t say much. The gaudy numbers they had as a secondary in the regular season were mostly a result of the weakness of Big Ten passing games and the weakness of the Michigan defense of line. Teams were plenty happy to run on the Wolverines until they were stopped. I thought Al Borges bounced back with a better game plan against South Carolina and he did, although it could have used some more Denard Robinson. Devin Gardner has a lot of talent, but he is still raw. Michigan has a playmaking wide receiver in Jeremy Gallon, but it remains to be seen if anyone else will step up to join him. Who knows if they will find a playmaker in the backfield, but the offensive line could be a major liability. It will definitely be young. Getting Taylor Lewan back could be a good start, but he’s not actually as productive as his accolades would indicate. That’s probably why the Michigan coaching staff barely gave him any chances to match up one-on-one with Jadeveon Clowney, who only played about half his team’s snaps anyway.
  • I suppose we learned Michigan State does not have unending confidence in Andrew Maxwell, but I guess that shouldn’t be a shock after the season he had. Of course he was made a captain before the season started. Are young quarterback in the expected to struggle, but I think the larger issue was with play calling that did not help them out. Of course, it’s hard to call plays when you can’t block anybody. The Spartans just have to get better up front if they want to be good enough to be an upper-echelon team. They should continue to be very good on defense next year even with the loss of William Gholston early to the pros. Depth is very good on the defensive line for MSU.
  • Northwestern sucked it up and got it done, actually riding a hot start to a postseason victory for a change. The Wildcats’ woeful secondary feasted on Mississippi State for four interceptions and showed some playmaking ability with six tackles for loss, including three sacks. Kain Colter and Venric Mark are wonderful skill players around whom to build an offense, but the offensive line started three seniors who will be missed. The quarterback rotation seems to need some bugs worked out, but a win is a win, especially considering the program’s postseason history.
  • Minnesota showed that it at least belonged in a bowl (for what that’s worth these days) but giving Texas Tech everything it wanted, but the Gophers couldn’t hang onto a late lead and lost on a last-second field goal. Only seven seniors started for the Gophers, who might have something in freshman quarterback Philip Nelson and sophomore running back Donnell Kirkwood. Leading tackler in the game Brock Vereen is due back at safety next year, as is defensive end Rashede Hageman (six tackles, one sack).
  • Purdue was kind enough to leave no doubt it made the right move in letting go Danny Hope. My only other thought on that game was that it will be refreshing to evaluate their 2013 roster with the impression any apparent talents won’t be wasted like they were under the Hope regime, which was plagued by injuries and undisciplined play. There are some dangerous skill guys on the roster if they all come back to play for new head coach Darrell Hazell, a former Ohio State assistant.
  • Rare is the Rose Bowl that feels like an afterthought, but it was hard to take much from Wisconsin’s loss to Stanford. Kudos to the Badgers for hanging tough after falling behind 14-0, but the Cardinal did not exactly lower the boom. Both teams were very conservative, owing to the total of 37 passes thrown and 34 points scored (not that I don’t love a good slugfest and the many varieties of running plays each team came out with). The game did serve as further validation to me of the improvement of the Wisconsin front seven, a group I was not high on at all entering the season but that turned in a really nice campaign. Most of it should be back, so that is a good building block for the new coaching staff in Madison. Nine seniors started on offense or defense for the Badgers, so they will be young and/or unproven at a lot of places in 2013.

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